the low down on intuitive eating
you may have heard the term 'intuitive eating' floating around and thinking it sounds pretty cool to 'eat whatever you want, whenever you want.' just like we were teenagers again, right?!
but like all things that sound too good to be true, it's unfortunately not that simple.
what is intuitive eating?
intuitive eating refers to understanding and responding to your body's cues of hunger, fullness and appetite, and learning to eat mindfully and without guilt. it also includes distinguishing between physical hunger and other factors relating to appetite such as emotional feelings, boredom, and habit.
unlike traditional 'diets' that restrict or ban certain foods, intuitive eating requires you to stop looking at food as 'good' or 'bad.' instead, it's about learning to listen to your body and feeding it what feels right for you and when.
when you eat intuitively, you also let go of the idea that you need to lose or gain weight so you can look a certain way and instead, develop a healthy attitude toward food and body image.
intuitive eating is essentially an eating style that promotes a healthy attitude toward food and body image. The idea is that you should eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
to eat intuitively, you may need to relearn how to trust your body. to do that, you need to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger:
- physical hunger. this biological urge tells you to replenish nutrients. it builds gradually and has different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability. it’s satisfied when you eat any food.
- emotional hunger. this is driven by emotional need. sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the feelings that can create cravings for food, often comfort foods. eating then causes guilt and and sometimes, a sense of self-hatred.
tips for eating intuitively
- reject the diets. restricting the types of foods you eat (unless professionally advised for health reasons) is never a good idea as you're not feeding your body the nutrients it needs to function. instead, drop the mental load of counting calories and keeping up with the latest weight loss diets and start tuning into your body's messages and needs.
- eat mindfully. take your time and chew to aid in digestion, pausing between mouthfuls to let your brain catch up to your gut and let you know when you're satisfied. enjoy and savour your food!
- eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. just because it's not lunchtime, doesn't mean you can't be hungry. so don't ignore the hunger signs, or the feeling of being full.
- choose foods that make you feel good. but a warning here: this doesn't mean indulging in dessert every day. remember that sugar is addictive, so letting yourself have that chocolate on more than the odd occasion is habitual and not necessarily what your body wants. eating intuitively means choosing foods that satisfy both your health needs and your taste buds.
it's also worth noting that intuitive eating isn't for everyone - particularly those with health conditions that require you to cut back on certain foods or watch calorie intake in order to manage the condition.
intuitive eating might be right for you if:
- you’ve already reached your health, body composition, and performance goals
- you’ve gone through the learning period of finding foods that agree with your gut and eliminated those that don't
- you’re focussed on improving your relationship with food and trusting your body
like all things health and wellness, intuitive eating should be used as an exploration of oneself, and an ongoing practice of tuning into what's best for your body.
we'd love to here your thoughts, comment below on your experiences with intuitive eating.